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Inner strength in relation to perceived physical and mental health among the oldest old people with chronic illness
Faculty of Health and Science, Nord-Trøndelag University College, Levanger, Norway.
Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Nursing Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1614-7379
Faculty of Agricuclture and Information Technology, Nord-Trøndelag University College,.
Faculty of Health Science, Nord-Trøndelag University Collage, Namsos, Norway.
2013 (English)In: Aging & Mental Health, ISSN 1360-7863, E-ISSN 1364-6915, Vol. 17, no 2, p. 189-196Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Objectives: The aim of this study was to examine inner strength, defined as connectedness, firmness, flexibility, and creativity, and its relation to mental and physical health in a sample of the oldest old chronically ill women and men living at home.

Methods: A sample of 79 older women and 41 men in the age range of 80–101 years old (mean = 87.5) participated in this study. Inner strength measured by Resilience Scale, Sense of Coherence Scale (SOC), Purpose in Life Test (PIL), and Self-Transcendence Test (STS) was viewed in relation to mental and physical health (SF-36 Health Survey).

Results: Experiencing connectedness, firmness, flexibility, and creativity were equal for women and men. SOC, PIL, and STS showed moderate inner strength. Medium and low resilience made the participants feel vulnerable. A significant correlation was observed between the variables for inner strength and mental health for women, men, and the total sample. STS was associated with mental and physical health for the total sample and for women.

Conclusions: Although the oldest old women and men were vulnerable, they had inner strength. Encouraging participation using the inner strength of the oldest old can contribute to strengthen their experiences of independence, integrity, and enjoying life.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 17, no 2, p. 189-196
Keywords [en]
Aged; Chronically ill; Inner strength; Resilience
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-18199DOI: 10.1080/13607863.2012.717257ISI: 000315677700007PubMedID: 22934801Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84874060347OAI: oai:DiVA.org:miun-18199DiVA, id: diva2:584442
Note

Published online: 30 Aug 2012

Aging & Mental Health 2012, 1-8 iFirst

Available from: 2013-01-09 Created: 2013-01-09 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Jeg vil leve til jeg dør: Livslyst hos hjemmeboende kronisk sykeeldste eldre
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Jeg vil leve til jeg dør: Livslyst hos hjemmeboende kronisk sykeeldste eldre
2013 (Norwegian)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

One challenge in the Western world is the risk of functional impairmentand chronic disease accompanying older age. In Norway it is expected thatmost chronically ill older persons will continue to live at home and receivehelp from home nursing care. The inner strength of the oldest old, as seenin relation to the help that is given, and whether the help has contributed tostrengthen the will to live has been explored only to a limited extent.Meaning in life and daily routines can be related to the will to live,understood as enjoying life and having the courage to live. The aim of thisstudy is to develop knowledge in regard to chronically ill oldest olderpersons and the possibilities and limitations in their will to live when theyreceive help from home nursing care.This study uses the quantitative method (n=120, Article 1 and Article 2) todescribe the characteristics of inner strength using the questionnairesResilience Scale, Sense of Coherence Scale, Purpose in Life Test, and Self-Transcendence Scale. Inner strength was seen in relation to mental andphysical health using the questionnaire SF-36. The qualitative method wasused to illuminate how the oldest older persons experienced living at homewith chronic illness (n=13, Article 3) and receiving help from home nursingcare (n=11, Article 4). The participants in this study were 80 years old orolder, living at home with chronic illnesses, and receiving help from homenursing care. All participants were determined to have the mental capacityto take part in this study.The analysis showed in Article 1 that the oldest old had an inner strengthexpressed as ”sense of coherence” and ”purpose in life.” Their innerstrength was accompanied by the ability for self-transcendence. Mentalhealth was predicted by self-transcendence (p < 0.001) for the total sampleand for women. Physical health was predicted by self-transcendence (p <0.01) for the total sample. Low resilience contributed to vulnerability for theparticipants. They were vulnerable in terms of limited perseverance, selfreliance,and existential aloneness (Article 2). On the contrary, theyexperienced equanimity and meaning. Meaning in daily life (Article 3)sometimes meant feelings of insufficiency and dependency. In contrast,they also experienced joy in life, gratitude for living at home, and aneagerness to participate in activities that made them feel alive. Theyexperienced both good and bad days, which depended on their illness butwas also based on how their needs for help and support were met. InviiArticle 4, receiving help indicated different experiences. Being ill anddependent on help led to days with illness, treatment, and receiving care. Italso indicated they were in need of professional help. Receiving help couldmean being at the mercy of helpers, which could imply unworthy help, asthey had no influence on the help they got from incompetent nurses whofocused only on tasks, with limited flexibility in their work, using theirhomes as a working place. This situation of receiving help from busynurses caused the old person to feel inferior as a human being. Other timesit meant receiving help from nurses who took care with respect to the oldperson and confirmed him or her as a human being. The older personswanted to be seen, met, and supported to strengthen their courage to meetthe challenges of being old and ill.According to the ethics of caring, human beings are vulnerable andmutually dependent on each other. This influences the possibilities andlimitations of ”the other” in experiencing a will to live. ”Receiving theother” can contribute to the will to live, influenced by the help received inan asymmetric dependency in which the nurses are caught in the tensionbetween suffering and the will to live for the oldest older person in need ofhelp. In this tension, the will to live is dependent on help that is given in arelationship characterized by caring and responsibility for the other.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sundsvall: Mittuniversitetet, 2013. p. 74
Series
Mid Sweden University doctoral thesis, ISSN 1652-893X ; 140
Keywords
Dependency, oldest old, home, home nursing care, inner strength
National Category
Nursing
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-18318 (URN)978-91-87103-56-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-02-21, Høgskolen i Nord-Trøndelag, Levanger, Norge, 10:00
Supervisors
Available from: 2013-01-22 Created: 2013-01-22 Last updated: 2015-06-18Bibliographically approved

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